I am a father to two kids; one six-year old and a toddler. Both highly energetic and can easily wreak chaos while requiring the smallest amount of time. I love them both dearly but there are times when I want to crumple them into a ball and hurl them into the trash bin while yelling “Kobe!”
Parenting is tough—and I don’t think an aphorism would help in any way. In today’s technology-driven world, everyone is under constant pressure to deliver, to reply to a text message, to send that witty Snap—and not millisecond later. I used to joke that push notifications were the work of the devil only to find out later on that they really are.
Even multitasking, that prized feat of modern-day office warriors, turns out to be a myth. Scientists now know that the brain is incapable of paying attention to two things at the same time. What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent. (from Quiet by Susan Cain)
Multitasking is a joke. You’re delusional if you think you can raise a child with one hand while the other is fiddling with a smartphone. The moment you find yourself too busy with what you’re doing with your phone—be it composing an email, thinking of a witty Facebook post, waiting for a clickbait article to load—you’ve already lost focus on any other thing you were also in the middle of.
I like to pretend I’m multitasking at work but really I’m just juggling tasks. This results to high output but often with mediocre results—something I always hear come performance evaluation time.
Under pressure, parents often unleash their distress on their kids — making more demands, expressed with a shorter temper. (from Performing Under Pressure by JP Pawliw-Fry and Hendrie Weisinger)
I never snap at anyone at the office but, regretfully, I do so at the expense of my kids. So let’s say I’m in the middle of trying to sing along to an upbeat song on Spotify while washing the dishes or maybe composing an email from home to prove to everyone how productive I am and that I’m a sad workaholic. My kid out of nowhere starts checking in with me; telling me how her day went, telling me stories about magical unicorns, and asking me if I have work the next day. I feel very guilty just writing this down but it usually ends up with me yelling: “WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT NOT DISTURBING DADDY WHEN HE’S IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING!? [EXPLETIVE]”
Yes. I am horrible at parenting—I suck.
But where the hell did all that rage come from? Yes, it could’ve been a not-so-good day at the office but I know I am always happy—more so delighted—and looking forward to be coming home at the end of every work day.
As I try to play back scenario after scenario, one thing I noticed is: My temper flares when I’m disturbed or distracted while in the middle of doing something else. I just can’t put my focus on two things at the same time. And I don’t usually have a short temper. I’m a project manager for crying out loud where not being able to control your emotions can easily be the difference between a completed project and an angry mob chasing after you.
The more I read about multitasking, the more I realize that humans were not designed for it. Humans, with the inclusion of those we call “clutch” players, perform their very worst when they are under pressure and multitasking just adds to that.
Today, we admire people for multitasking, we celebrate people who can accomplish many things at once. But when you’re giving out medications it is the last time you should be multitasking (from Switch by Chip and Dan Heath)
So do your kids a favor. Put down your phone. It’s a great first step to many.
Spend time with your children while giving them your full, undivided attention and do away with multitasking—that thing is straight up garbage. Me and my wife used to put our phones inside an empty fishbowl upon entering the house (might be a great idea to bring that back). Be creative. Ask your kids for suggestions but don’t be surprised if they propose you put your phone in a different kind of bowl.
You may pick times of the day where everyone can spend a couple of minutes checking their phones—just so no one is left out of their social [network] circle. I bet you my left arm, you will have an improved relationship right away. If it doesn’t, I’m already halfway through singing a Taylor Swift song; go bug someone else.